Aviation and Plane Crash Statistics
Commercial aviation is one of the safest forms of travel in the United States. Commercial air carriers have not had a fatal crash since 2019.
In the past 10 years, only 14 passengers have died in crashes on commercial flights. In 2021, the most recent year with full statistics, U.S. carriers flew 15.9 million hours with 0 deaths and 14 serious injuries.
General aviation has a very different track record. Several hundred people get injured or killed in small airplane crashes every year. Compared to commercial airlines, private planes log more flight hours. But they have many more deaths and injuries. In 2021, private planes flew 22 million hours with 344 deaths and 221 serious injuries.
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Investigation of Aviation Accidents
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a dual role with respect to aircraft manufacture, operation, and maintenance. First, it encourages and fosters a robust airplane and airline industry. These industries are critical to the nation’s economy and national security.
Second, the FAA regulates aircraft safety by:
- Licensing pilots
- Overseeing air traffic controllers
- Inspecting and approving airports
- Regulating airplane manufacturers
- Monitoring aircraft operators and airlines
Bear in mind that the FAA’s regulatory authority goes beyond airplanes. The FAA also regulates:
- Hot air balloons
- Hang gliders and paragliders
- Radio-controlled airplanes and drones
The FAA’s dual roles sometimes conflict. When a crash happens, the FAA steps out of the way to avoid a possible conflict of interest. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) steps in to investigate all incidents involving a civil airplane in motion.
The NTSB’s investigative jurisdiction covers all civilian aviation accidents. It does not investigate military aviation crashes, even when they happen inside the U.S.
Since the NTSB covers aviation accidents, it will investigate crashes on the ground when an aircraft is taxiing for takeoff or after landing. It will also investigate collisions between taxiing aircraft.
Airplane Crash Statistics
Not all airplane crashes involve a midair collision. Airplane crashes also include:
- Hard landings
- Weather-related crashes
- Accidents while taking off
- Loss of power and stalling incidents
- Collisions between two aircraft on the ground
- Crashes between an aircraft and structures or ground vehicles
Some crashes generally get treated as workplace accidents rather than aviation accidents. Airplane accidents do not include incidents that happen while the airplane is being loaded, unloaded, or fueled while parked. When a baggage truck hits an airplane parked at the gate, the accident is not counted as an airplane crash.
Commercial Crash Statistics
Commercial carriers sell tickets to passengers to provide air transportation. Commercial carriers also transport goods or cargo for the public.
Commercial carriers flew over 7 billion miles in 2021. Over 7.8 million commercial flights departed U.S. airports that year. Of these flights, the NTSB investigated 24 accidents. As mentioned previously, these accidents caused 14 serious injuries and no deaths.
According to the National Safety Council, these numbers make your lifetime odds of dying on a commercial flight too low to calculate. If you contrast this with motor vehicles, your lifetime odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 93, or about 1.1%.
General Aviation Crash Statistics
General aviation covers private flights. This usually means that the aircraft is privately owned. It also means the flight is not open to the public and that it is not a regularly scheduled route.
Typical general aviation flights include:
- Skydiving flights
- Sightseeing flights
- Crop-dusting flights
- Personal and business flights
- News and traffic helicopter flights
- Bush and backcountry flights for fishermen, hunters, and skiers
In 2021, the NTSB investigated 1,157 general aviation accidents, or about 48 times the number of commercial aviation accidents. These accidents included 210 fatal accidents that killed 344 people. Another 947 accidents seriously injured 221 people.
These two statistics highlight several reasons airplane accidents are so dangerous. First, airplane accidents cause more deaths than injuries. Because of the speed and elevation involved, in-flight incidents are often deadly.
Second, airplane crashes are often mass-casualty events. In 2021, fatal general aviation accidents killed an average of 1.6 people per accident. By contrast, fatal car accidents in Texas in 2021 killed an average of 1.1 people per accident.
Texas Aviation Crash Statistics
The NTSB provides an online database of investigations. Using this database, you will find that the NTSB investigated 118 aviation accidents in Texas in 2021. Only one of these accidents involved a commercial carrier.
This accident involved a United Airlines flight that skidded off the runway at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The accident caused no injuries or deaths.
The remaining 117 accidents in Texas involved private airplanes, and 20 of these accidents caused 33 deaths. This averages 1.7 fatalities per fatal accident. The deadliest fatal crash happened at an air show near Dallas. Six people were killed when two airplanes collided in the air.
These accidents also included 11 serious injury accidents and 16 minor injury accidents, in which 19 people suffered serious injuries, and 30 suffered minor injuries.
Liability for Airplane Crash Injuries
Liability for an airplane crash or other incident depends on the reason for the accident. If the accident resulted from pilot error, the pilot may bear liability for your losses. The flight operator might also bear liability if it knew or should have known that the pilot was substandard.
Liability might fall on an aircraft’s owner and operator for an accident caused by an improperly maintained aircraft. A repair or maintenance facility might also bear liability if it failed to perform its duties with reasonable care.
If the aircraft or an aircraft part was defective, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Importantly, you do not need to prove negligence in a product liability case. Instead, you only need to prove the existence of the defect and that the defect existed when the manufacturer put it into the stream of commerce.
Compensation for Injuries After an Aviation Accident in Texas
Compensation for bodily injuries can cover both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages include the money you paid or lost due to your injuries.
Non-economic damages include pain, suffering, disability, dismemberment, and disfigurement. These losses represent the impact on your life rather than the costs of treatment and income losses. To discuss the compensation you can pursue for the injuries you or a loved one suffered in an aviation accident, contact Stephens Law Firm, PLLC by calling (817) 420-7000 for a free consultation.